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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Vayeshev

The Settlers and the Israeli Left

Joseph and His Brothers

Relations between Israel's left and the settler community seem to mirror the sort of relations that existed between Joseph and his brothers. The settlers, like Joseph, dream messianic dreams about the redemption of Israel; the brothers are spiteful.
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It seems to me that relations between Israel's political left and the settler community mirror, in a sense, the sort of relations that existed between Joseph and the rest of Jacob's children. Joseph is a dreamer: He is taken up with messianic dreams of kings and redemption - "We were binding sheaves in the field…" (Genesis 37:7). This is reminiscent of the well-known psalm of redemption: "When the Lord brings back those that return to Zion, we will be like dreamers" (Psalm 126:1). In the same psalm we also find the words: "He shall come home with joy, bearing his sheaves." Joseph dreams that he has a special role, that he is chosen, and this causes his brothers to become spiteful of him.

The settlers also dream messianic dreams about the redemption of Israel, and there are those on the left who hate them because of this. Joseph criticizes his brothers. He has high moral standards, and he relates their slanderous talk to his father. He is loved by his father, yet his brothers hate him. The settlers too are idealistic pioneers, willing to sacrifice themselves for the nation and the land. The settlers have strong values, and this awakens spite and hatred on the left. This hatred is so ingrained that "they cannot not say a peaceful word" to the settlers (ibid. 37:4).

The hatred of the Israeli left is so intense that they are unwilling to open up channels of dialog with the settlers. The hatred of the brothers toward Joseph was such that they wished to be totally rid of him, and preceded to throw him into one of the pits, even though it was filled with snakes and scorpions. Finally, they even sell him to the Ishmaelites, saying, "Let's see what he dreams about now." The left behaves today in the same manner. They are willing to endanger the settlers. Yet, as it was then, so will it be today: "You might have meant to do me harm, [but] God made it come out good" (ibid. 50:20). Then, Joseph's dreams came true; in our day too, the dreams of the settlers will eventually be fulfilled.

The Vilna Gaon says that Joseph represents the spirit of the Messiah from the line of Joseph throughout history, including in the generation which heralds the redemption. Regarding Joseph, it is written, "And Joseph recognized his brothers but they did not recognize him" (ibid. 42:8). This is his nature throughout history: People do not recognize his purpose. This is due to the work of the adversary, who blurs the role of the Messiah of the line of Joseph and causes people to denigrate him and his doings. The Vilna Gaon continues, quoting the verse in the Book of Psalms: "Wherein they have taunted the footsteps of your Messiah" (89:52). As is well known, both the enemies of God and the enemies of Israel make it their business to disrupt the start of the redemption, i.e., restoration of the soil, settlement of the land, and fulfillment of land-related Torah precepts. We, though, rely solely upon our Father in heaven, for it is His desire that we bring about an "itarutah diltata," meaning "an awakening from below." We must stand firm in the face of the many disturbances and scorn. These are the words of the Vilna Gaon. Therefore, let us be strong and courageous, and everything will certainly work out for the best, just as it did for Joseph.
Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed
Rosh Yeshiva of the Bet El Yeshiva, was the head of the Yesha rabbis board and rabbi of Bet-El, founder and head of Arutz 7.
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